Some people appreciate the brand because they see it in official games, including NBA games. Some others do it because of the high-quality standards. Spalding is a leading name when it comes to basketballs, and there are lots of options to choose from.
If you love basketball like me, chances are you want to enhance your skills and develop new techniques with a supportive ball. We have all been there – start with a cheap no-name ball, only to realize its limitations. After a while, you upgrade again and again until you get to the iconic brand.
This article will help you determine the best Spalding basketball based on your needs. There are lots of choices out there, which is a great thing. But at the same time, it can also be confusing.
For instance, some balls are suitable for indoor games, while others are great outdoors.
Whether you are a new or an experienced player, this guide is what you need to know to up your game!
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Spalding TF-1000 Legacy
(4.9 / 5)
Spalding Excel TF-500
Best for Outdoor
(4.6 / 5)
Spalding Tack-Soft TF
Best for Indoor
(4.5 / 5)
Spalding Zi/O TF
Best for Indoor Outdoor
(4.5 / 5)
Spalding NBA SGT NeverFlat Hexagrip
Best for Heavy Uses
(4.7 / 5)
Best Value for Money
(4.4 / 5)
SCORE: (4.9 / 5)
Weighing a pound and getting as close as possible to the ball you see in the NBA, this is probably the ball that will give you a unique first-class experience in terms of basketball. It is suitable for indoor uses, yet it can be just as effective for outdoors.
The grip is what makes this ball my favorite Spalding model. If you are a shooter, you will love how it sticks to your hands, and let it go when needed – excellent accuracy and good control. The grip is enhanced by the deep channel design.
Moving on, the ZK microfiber PU composite cover is exclusive to Spalding and adds to the durability of this ball – hence its common uses outdoors too. It has top-notch moisture management technology too, so it is less likely to slip out of your hands.
The ball comes with a butyl rubber bladder for air retention – talking about air, the recommended inflation is 8 PSI. You can adjust it based on your needs, but I find 8 PSI to be more than enough for a great experience.
Finally, the ball has nylon windings, so its overall structural integrity is less likely to disappoint. Based on the weight and size – 6, 28.5”, I would place this ball in the intermediate category. It is so good overall that it has become the official high school ball in a few states.
- Excellent touch – not slippery, not sticky
- Can be used outdoors too, yet it is made for indoor uses
- Works well with moisture and sweaty hands
- Great value for money
- Good air retention
- More suitable for women and men with smaller hands
- Not as good and solid as the original TF-1000
SCORE: (4.6 / 5)
This ball comes in two sizes – official, 7, 29.5”, as well as youth, 27.5”. Unless you buy it for your kid who is just starting to enjoy basketball, I recommend the official size. It will provide a more official feeling, helping you get used to a more standard size.
Now, the ball is made for both indoor and outdoor uses, so it is somewhere in the middle. However, I find it excellent for outdoor uses because of the bounce if you keep it at the right pressure – not more, not less than 8 PSI. Sometimes, the ball may not ship inflated, so you will need a pump too.
The ball is suitable for experienced players, but newbies will gain plenty from it. It will help you up the game with its sponge backing, not to mention the tacky feel when it bounces. Handling is flawless, and the grip will not let you down.
The touch adds to your shooting game too. You can control the ball without really looking at it. It sticks to the hand as you jump before shooting, but it slips smoothly in an accurate movement once you release it. Indeed, the shooting experience will be the same both indoors and outdoors.
With all these, I still believe Spalding should have advertised this ball for outdoor uses only because it simply stands out in the crowd. The indoor feature is basically Spalding’s way to tell you that you can use it in a gym too, without having to worry about its feel or control.
On another note, I believe you should stick to clear surfaces when outdoors. The ball tends to become quite slippery when dusty – keep your hands moisturized or simply use a different surface. Bottom line, each surface has both pros and cons – find the right conditions, and you should be alright.
- Suitable for both indoors and outdoor uses
- Holds air regardless of the surface
- Comes in two different sizes
- Great weight for its size
- Good durability
- Can get dusty and slippery when used outdoors due to channels not being very deep
- When sent inflated, you may have to leave some air out before using it
SCORE: (4.5 / 5)
It is hard to believe you can make a basketball that works wonders both indoors and outdoors, yet most brands try it, and Spalding makes no exception either. This ball may have been designed for indoor and outdoor uses, but I find it the best Spalding basketball for indoors.
The soft touch given by the faux leather makes it stand out in a gym. It does come with a premium composite cover, so it is just as good for outdoor uses. However, make sure you pick a clean court or dust can make it a bit slippery.
Other than that, the ball comes in official size and weight – 7, 29.5″. If you are used to standard balls, you will find no issues adapting to it. It is usually shipped inflated – if you have to inflate it yourself, make sure you do not exceed 8 PSI.
To be perfectly honest, for indoor play, I find it easier to control if you drop the air pressure just under 8 PSI, but this is probably a matter of personal choice. All in all, back to the soft touch, it is given by an adhesive grip that lets the ball go just when you shoot.
The smoothness is quite dry, so I recommend using this ball indoors only. Sure, you can still get used to it outdoors, but I believe there are better options out there because the channels are not extremely deep. Other than that, control is less likely to disappoint, and I find accuracy quite impressive.
- Good accuracy and excellent control indoors
- Durable faux material
- Good bounce
- Air retention is excellent
- Suitable both indoors and outdoors
- There are better balls if you are into outdoor games only
- Slightly soft, as the composite cover may feel a bit hard indoors
- Not always inflated when shipped, so you may need a pump
SCORE: (4.5 / 5)
This is probably the best Spalding basketball if you want to balance between indoor and outdoor uses. It has the optimal construction, the right materials, and channels at the right depth to ensure you will have a good grip, whether inside or outside.
The ball is available in the official size – 7, 29.5”. It is based on faux leather – quite durable – and features a Zi/O tournament composite cover. It may feel a bit hard at first, but you will get used to it. It definitely feels different from other indoor/outdoor balls, but this is what it takes to work on all surfaces.
The foam-backed design adds to the feel. Personally, I feel like the ball sticks to the hand if there is no dust on it. It feels like every touch can control it – even with the tips of my fingers. When you let go, it grabs the power you put into it and flies.
Now, everyone is worried about the feeling outdoors. Channels are a bit deeper when compared to other balls, so even if it gets dusty, you still have a good grip. I recommend cleaning it regularly if you play on dusty surfaces – other than that, you should be alright.
Normally, this ball is shipped inflated, but you should have a pump just in case you are not too lucky. The optimal pressure is 8 PSI, whether it loses air over time or comes deflated. Again, I recommend going just under 8 PSI if you use it indoors.
- Good experience both indoors and outdoors
- Great channel depth to prevent it from becoming slippery
- Good value for money
- Superior grip in all conditions
- Durable materials
- The grip was better in the 2016 release
- Can still get dusty and slightly slippery, yet it will maintain most of the grip
SCORE: (4.7 / 5)
Whether it comes to training kids or just playing ball with friends, a heavy-duty basketball is a priority for me. Any of the above-mentioned options will last for ages, but you want something that will retain its integrity in the long run.
This is exactly what makes the NBA SGT NeverFlat Hexagrip the best Spalding basketball for heavy-duty uses. It comes in the official NBA weight and size – 7, 29.5”. Basically, there should be no issues getting used to it.
The soft grip technology cover ensures channels are deep enough to prevent dust from making it slippery. It feels like it can stick to your hand and gives you full control, even with the tips of your fingers. I still recommend giving it a rinse after playing in bad weather or on a dusty court.
Now, what makes this ball stand out is the NeverFlat air retention technology. It sounds hard to believe, but it is guaranteed to keep the ball inflated for at least a year, and the interesting part is these claims are actually real – heavy-duty uses both indoors and outdoors, and the pressure stayed at almost 8 PSI.
Other than that, the ball is based on composite rubber. It is durable and will not disappoint with its technologies. It is not the most expensive unit you can find out there, but it has a solid design that will face all kinds of challenges.
- Stays inflated for ages
- Good grip, both indoors and outdoors
- Wears out very slowly
- Great value for money
- Standard size
- Bounce may feel a bit irregular after too many uses
- It may not be sent inflated, so you would have to inflate it yourself
SCORE: (4.4 / 5)
If price is an issue and you do not feel like spending too much on a Spalding basketball, this outdoor unit will likely impress you with its value for money. It is available in a classic size 7 – 29.5″, so it is suitable for both men and women.
What I truly like about this ball is the deep channel design – quite common for Spalding balls, but you would not expect it in an inexpensive model. Control is flawless – it bounces the right way, sticks when needed, and slips when you shoot.
The ball is designed for outdoor play, so it has a performance rubber cover. You can also try it indoors, but it feels a bit weird. It feels louder, and the bounce is not ideal – I recommend a ball for outdoor uses if you are going to spend most of your time on an outdoor court.
Just like for many of its balls, Spalding recommends 8 PSI for pressure. The ball is usually shipped deflated, so you will have to inflate it yourself – a matter of minutes only. Exceed the pressure, and the bounce will make it difficult to control the ball.
Finally, it makes no difference what surface you play on, as long as you do it outdoors. You can play on concrete, asphalt, or other similar surfaces. The ball will hold on incredibly well. Keep in mind it weighs just over 1.5 pounds.
- Excellent value for money
- Great durability in outdoor conditions
- Superior grip when compared to other outdoor basketballs
- Air retention is great
- It will retain its integrity even when used in bad weather conditions
- Pebbles on the ball may feel a bit rough on the hands if you are new
- Does not come with a pump, so make sure you have one
Choosing The Best Spalding Basketball – Our Buying Guide
Choosing the best Spalding basketball can be a bit difficult. If this is the first time you are playing basketball, slight issues can be easily overlooked until you get used to the sport. But then, it pays off starting with a quality ball in the right size to ensure a good start.
Selecting the right ball will give you the opportunity to play your best. You can purchase a cheap no-name ball for kids, but the quality will make you a seasoned player. Becoming familiar with the technical elements of the sport will definitely allow you to perform at the highest level.
The size is one of the first considerations in the process. You need to ensure the size will match your playing level. For instance, choosing a ball that is too small or too large will negatively affect your playing technique.
On the same note, if you want to join different leagues, there will be requirements regarding the color, material, and size. Therefore, it is important to go for official standards – this way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
Size 7 is standard for professionals – 29.5” and 22 ounces in weight. Most professional associations for men rely on this size, which is just as common in high school and college leagues. If you plan to get there, go for this size.
Size 6 is smaller – 20 ounces and 28.5” in circumference. Such balls are suitable for those with small hands, but they are also official for women’s associations. The size is also suitable for youth leagues – usually those aged 12 and up.
Size 5 is recommended for kids aged 8 to 11 – they measure around 27.5” in circumference. The size is the most popular one in youth leagues. Other small sizes include 4 – 25.5” – for kids under 8, as well as size 3 – 22”, for the youngest players out there.
Indoor or outdoor basketballs
It is extremely important to consider the environment when choosing a basketball. Player styles keep evolving, and techniques change, so designs are more diversified than ever. Some balls are designed for indoor uses, while others are more suitable outdoors.
The difference consists of more factors – internal structure, channel depth, or cover construction, just to name a few. If you play outdoors, you need a more rugged design because the surface is more abrasive. Plus, dust will get into the channels, making balls more slippery – so you need more depth.
Indoor courts tend to be more forgiving.
I believe once you get to a certain material, you will find it difficult to switch, yet you need to be flexible. You will usually find composite leather and rubber. Composite basketballs are sometimes known as synthetic. They provide the same experience as rubber balls, but they can take more wear and tear.
For this reason, the best Spalding basketball for indoor or indoor/outdoor games should be based on composite. Rubber basketballs are more suitable for outdoors – they are often referred to as street balls. Their cover is more durable and solid to withstand all sorts of surfaces.
Rubber basketballs provide an excellent grip, even if you play on rainy weather or a dusty court. They provide a good grip, and they cost less than composite balls. They come in all sorts of colors, and they are suitable for street basketball, as well as casual play – little to no maintenance required.
Composite basketballs are appropriate for mixed surfaces and indoor uses. They are more durable than the leather alternative and based on my personal experience, they represent the most popular choices on the market.
Best Spalding Basketball – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Still unsure which Spalding basketball to choose? Let me clear out a few other aspects.
What size basketball does Spalding make?
Spalding makes basketballs in more sizes. The most common one? The NBA official size – 7, which is 29”. However, Spalding also makes smaller sizes, suitable for women or kids. Sizes can go down to 5 and 6. The weight and size will obviously depend on your needs, skills, and goals.
Which is the best Spalding basketball?
There is no such thing as the best Spalding basketball for everyone, as what works for some players will not work for everyone else. If the ball fits your needs, you are alright to use it. There are different balls for different environments too – for instance, indoors or outdoors.
Does the NBA use Spalding basketballs?
The NBA does not use Spalding basketballs anymore. The official ball for the league is now made by Wilson. The swap was made in 2021. Prior to this change, Spalding was the official basketball supplier for the NBA – from 1983. During these 37 years, every basketball in the NBA was made by Spalding.
Deciding on the best Spalding basketball can be a bit tricky because you need to understand your needs first. You can try out different balls, go to courts, borrow balls and see what feels good, but it also pays off listening to professional recommendations.
The above-mentioned balls are among the top-rated ones – based on other reviews but also based on my personal experience with each of them. Over the past few decades, I have tried everything, but these models aim to stand out in the crowd.